The center back took to social media to reveal that he had been a victim of online attacks after the U.S. topped Mexico in the finale
U.S. men’s national team defender Mark McKenzie revealed that he has been subjected to racial abuse following Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League final.
McKenzie misplaced a pass in the opening moments of the USMNT’s eventual 3-2 victory, handing Mexico the lead in just the second minute.
And, in the wake of that mistake, McKenzie has been targeted by racial abuse on social media, despite the USMNT’s trophy-winning triumph.
What did McKenzie have to say?
“The amount of racial abuse and personal attacks on myself and family from ‘supporters’ and ‘non supporters’ just ain’t it,” McKenzie wrote on his Instagram story.
Berhalter condemns ‘disgusting’ abuse
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter was quick to condemn the “disgusting” abuse sent to the defender, adding that the whole team is united in battling racism as they always have been.
“It’s absolutely disgusting, things like that and it has no place in sport,” Berhalter said. “In our business, professional sports, you take enough criticism about performance and about guys having an off game and saying you’re not a good player or something like that, and to bring something like race into it is absolutely disgusting and out of bounds and has no place.
“I’ve been following the players in England as well and now it hits closer to home and we support Mark 100 percent and we don’t stand for any of that stuff. We’ve seen absolutely zero tolerance for things like that.
“I wish there was a way to hold people like that more accountable. To me, people get on Twitter and get on Instagram or whatever and they get bold. They do things that they normally wouldn’t do in life and I wish there was a way to hold them more accountable because that has no place.”
Berhalter went on to back McKenzie’s on-field performance, crediting the defender’s ability to bounce back from his early mistake.
“I was a defender as well and I just know when you make a mistake that leads to a goal, there’s a feeling and sometimes you want to just hide and you have to keep going. He did that and it wasn’t always pretty, but, in the meantime, he made some huge plays in that game, stepped in front of guys, was isolated one-v-one against top-level attackers and held his own.
“I spoke to the team about Mark and his performance yesterday and it was just a really, I think, brave performance, a relentless performance and he hung in there and just kept going, so we’re really proud of him and his effort.”
Nations League finale tainted by fan disturbances
McKenzie’s revelation comes after a number of crowd disturbances during the USMNT’s win over Mexico.
Sunday’s match in Denver was paused for several minutes because of fans using a homophobic chant, while players from both teams were pelted with projectiles from the crowd on two occasions, most notably after Christian Pulisic’s game-winning goal.
Winger Gio Reyna was injured by an object thrown from the stands, while Berhalter was left furious by the fan behavior as he labeled it a ‘total lack of respect’.